Arrest Records in Alabama

Table of Contents

With a population of 4.89 million, Alabama is the 24th most populous state in the U.S. and the 27th most densely populated. The state capital is Birmingham. There are 67 counties in the state, of which Jefferson County is the most populous and Greene County is the least populous. The state lags behind most other states in income, ranking 46th in the nation. 

Alabama experiences higher crime than the United States on average, earning a 5.2 per 1,000 violent crime rate in 2018. The state’s most dangerous city is Anniston, which has a violent crime rate six times higher than Alabama’s already high state average, along with a property crime rate of 78.55 offenses per 1,000. It should come as no surprise that the state has a higher than usual rate of arrests.

Alabama Arrest and Crime Statistics

  • 126,404 total arrests were made in 2018, along with 3,578 arrests of minors. 
  • 4,761 arrests were made for violent crimes, including 214 for murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, and 245 for rape. 
  • “Other assaults” was the leading identified cause of arrests, accounting for 13,027, followed by larceny-theft, which resulted in 12,332 arrests. 
  • Drug abuse violations resulted in 8,217 arrests, with driving under the influence arrests close behind, at 6,391. 
  • Drunkenness resulted in 5,300 arrests. 
  • There are more than 16,000 registered sex offenders in the Alabama Law Enforcement Sex Offender Registry. 

Sources: FBI: 2018 Crime in the United States, Alabama Law Enforcement Criminal Justice Services

What is a public arrest record?

An arrest record is a report produced by a law enforcement entity after the arrest or apprehension of an individual which contains the details of the incident, the individual’s personal information, and occasionally includes additional information about the individual’s criminal record.

An arrest record is often a key document in a criminal case and may play a significant role in an ensuing trial. The arrest record may remain in the public record for a long time regardless of whether the suspect is ultimately convicted of the crime(s) for which they were initially arrested. This means that it can be accessed by the general public.  

What is included in a public arrest record?

  • Description of the incident: An arrest record will include a chronological account of the alleged crime produced by the arresting officer that may utilize information provided by first-hand witnesses and/or victims of the alleged crime. 
  • Date and location of the arrest
  • Physical description: The height, weight, hair color, sex, and race of the arrested person, along with other distinguishing characteristics such as tattoos, scars, or birthmarks. 
  • Personal information: The name, age, date of birth, phone number, address, social security number, and other contact information of the arrested individual, as well as any other names the person may go by. 
  • Photographs
  • Fingerprints
  • Criminal charges filed
  • Classification of the crime: Whether the alleged crime is a felony or a misdemeanor.
  • Bail
  • Court date
  • Police interrogation details

What are the types of charges that may appear on an arrest record?

Generally, charges are classified into three main categories:

  • Infraction – An infraction is a minor violation of the law that is regulated at the state level. Punishment for an infraction is typically a fine or a written warning, rather than a jail or prison sentence. Examples of infractions include minor traffic violations, public nuisance offenses, and littering. 
  • Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than an infraction, but less severe than a felony, and generally punishable by a term of imprisonment of less than a year, or a term of probation. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor is more likely to serve time in a county or local jail than a federal or state prison. Examples of misdemeanors include driving under the influence, most drug abuse violations, and petty theft.
  • Felony – A felony is the most serious type of crime and generally results in a term of imprisonment of more than one year in a state or federal prison. Having a felony on one’s record may result in limitations of employment and the acquisition of specialty licenses. Examples of felonies include rape, murder, and arson.  

Who can access arrest records?

As in most other states, arrest records (also known as arrest reports) are public records in Alabama and can be accessed by anyone upon request to a law enforcement agency, and may come up during a routine background check. 

Other examples of Alabama public records include:

  • vital records such as birth and death certificates
  • marriage licenses
  • mugshots
  • court records
  • voting records
  • property records 

Where are physical copies of arrest records kept in Alabama?

Arrest records are typically held by the law enforcement agency responsible for the arrest, usually a local police department or county sheriff’s office. They also may be kept in the archive of a state government agency, or circuit court. However, there is no official repository for arrest records. 

Why can’t I access an arrest record in Alabama?

There are a number of reasons why you may not be able to access an arrest record. Although the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires federal agencies to release arrest records and other public records, records that fall under certain exemptions can be withheld from the public.

The FOIA includes nine exemptions that allow agencies to withhold documents, such as arrest records, and not release them to the public. They are:

  1. The information is classified to protect natural security. 
  2. The information focuses on the internal rules and practices of the agency.
  3. Another federal law prohibits the release of the information.
  4. The information includes confidential trade secrets and/or commercial and financial information. 
  5. The information includes privileged, confidential communicative exchanges between two agencies. 
  6. The information could pose a danger to another person’s privacy if released.
  7. The information is reserved for law enforcement purposes in a court case or an investigation or could reveal a confidential source. 
  8. The information includes confidential information about financial institution supervision. 
  9. The information includes geographical information about wells.

Additionally, some state laws limit the availability of arrest records due to the fact that they are perceived as one-sided documents that do not include the arrested person’s account of the incident. 

What is the difference between an arrest record and a criminal record?

Compared to an arrest record, a criminal record is a more thorough document that details an individual’s entire criminal history, including arrest warrants, arrests, third party complaints, convictions, and even dropped cases. 

What is the difference between an arrest record and an arrest warrant?

An arrest warrant is a document issued by a judge or magistrate that grants law enforcement the authority to arrest an individual suspected of a crime or to search and seize the individual’s property, whereas an arrest record is a document of an arrest that is only created after an arrest or apprehension has already occurred.  

In order for a judge or magistrate to issue an arrest warrant, they must conclude that there is probable cause for an arrest. Probable cause must be backed by sworn testimony or an affidavit that provides sufficient information supporting the need for an arrest. An arrest warrant must also specify one individual that should be arrested, rather than a group of individuals or a rough description of a suspect. 

How many Americans have been arrested?

While crime has steadily dropped in the United States over the past several decades, arrests have gone up, particularly for younger age groups. Typically, law enforcement makes around 10 million arrests each year. Here are some key statistics on arrests in the United States:

  • In 2018, around 10.3 million arrests were made nationwide.
  • 73% of arrested persons in 2018 were males.
  • The more recent an American was born, the greater the likelihood that the individual has been arrested at least once. The following is the percentage of Americans in various age groups that have been arrested: 
    • 6.4% of Americans  born before 1949
    • 10.7% of Americans born between 1949 and 1958
    • 13.8% of Americans born between 1959 and 1968
    • 18.7% of Americans born between 1969 and 1978
    • 23% of Americans born between 1979-1988

Sources: Federal Bureau of Investigation, RAND Corporation

How to search for Arrest Records in Alabama

How can I search for an Alabama arrest record on the internet?

Since tracking down physical copies of arrest records can prove challenging, searching for them online is a viable option. There is a wealth of online services that allow you to search and access Alabama arrest records and other public records via numerous government agency databases in exchange for a fee. 

However, despite the fact that users must pay to obtain an arrest record from an online service, it’s nevertheless a convenient means of getting these documents. The offices of government agencies are often marred by inconsistent service and take a long time to process requests to view documents. 

Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a fee to use an online background check service, rather than endure the extended delays typical of government offices.  

Getting physical copies of public arrest records in Alabama

Want to find out if there is a record of you being arrested in the state of Alabama? One way to do it is to submit an Application to Review Alabama Criminal History Record Information to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, an Alabama state agency that is part of the Executive Branch of the State Government and tasked with overseeing public safety in the state. 

Note that the ALEA application only allows you to view your own arrest records, and not the records of others. To view arrest records of others, you should do an online search, or make an in-person request at a government office or law enforcement agency.   

The process of filling out and mailing the application is complicated, and requires additional documents and a form of payment, so follow these steps to make sure that the process is done correctly:

  1. Fill out the PERSONAL INFORMATION section.
  2. Fill out the WORK INFORMATION section with information about your employer. If you are self-employed, fill in your own name and address and write the name of your business or profession. 
  3. If you intend to challenge or correct information on your arrest record, follow the additional steps in the section below
  4. Sign and date the application.
  5. Have the application notarized by a licensed notary public OR have it signed by two witnesses. 
  6. Make a copy of your unexpired driver’s license, passport, certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship, or state ID and place it in the envelope that you are mailing the application in. 
  7. Obtain a classifiable copy of your fingerprints from the local police department and place it in the application envelope.
  8. Obtain a money order or cashier’s check made out to ALEA for $25 and place it in the application envelope.
  9. Once you have the completed application, copy of identification, copy of your fingerprints, and money order/cashier’s check in the envelope mail it to the following address:

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency

Criminal Records and Identification Unit

ATTN: Record Challenge

P.O. Box 1511

Montgomery, Alabama 36102-1511

After your application is mailed and received, ALEA recommends that you allow a minimum of 4-5 weeks for the application to be processed. If you have any issues with the procedure, or the organization has not responded within the recommended time frame, you may reach ALEA at 334-353-4340 or 1-866-740-4762

What can I do if my Alabama arrest record has a mistake?

In addition to allowing people to request access to their arrest records, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency application gives individuals the opportunity to dispute or correct inaccurate information on an arrest record. 

The APPLICATION TO CHALLENGE section is the 2nd page of the ALEA application. Individuals are given the opportunity to dispute up to six separate incidents on their arrest record.  If you wish to have information on your arrest record corrected or removed, follow the steps below in addition to completing the earlier steps outlined in the above section.

  1. Print your name in the space at the top of the page. 
  2. Fill in the date in the appropriate space below your printed name.
  3. List the details of the incident(s) that you want to challenge, including the date of the arrest, the agency responsible, and the charge or disposition challenged. 
  4. Fill in the three boxes near the bottom of the page, providing reasons why the information is inaccurate, writing out the actual sequence of events, and listing the court/or agency that you received supporting evidence from that backs your version of events (if applicable).
  5. Sign and date the APPLICATION TO CHALLENGE at the bottom of the page. 

 

If you’re worried that someone you know or love has a criminal record and maybe hiding it from you, run a quick background check online with ArrestRecords.com. Thanks to public records laws, almost all Alabama arrests, criminal and civil records are available online, as well as comprehensive background checks and secret data. You can even find Alabama marriage records, secret divorce records as well as birth and death records.

Violent Crime rate

Property Crime rate 

Murder Crime rate 

Forcible Rapes rate 

Robbery rate 

Assaults rate 

Burglary rate 

Theft rate 

Motor Vehicle Theft rate